Movies of the Decade

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Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

With 2010 just a few months away and the “serious” movie season approaching, it’s time to start (because it’s never too early) the “Movies of the Decade” conversation. I actually don’t have a criteria, but if I did it could pretty much be summed up with (1) did it hold my interest (2) did I want to talk about it afterward (3) were the writers, directors, and actors at least trying to take me on a journey. Effort counts for a lot. With all due respect to several I left off but had on the larger list, here are my top 10 most significant movies of the decade:

10. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (I’d include it for the cinematography alone, but there was a quietness and aloofness present that was masterful. That it also includes Zooey Deschanel is a plus.)

9. The Dark Knight (Tackling the messes of life and the world with absolute abandon.)

8. The Royal Tenenbaums (Had to get a Wes Anderson mention. TRT is almost the perfect comedy to me. “What happened out there, Baumer.”)

7. Spider-man 2 (When Peter Parker says, “There’s more going on here than you and me” … that’s just a great moment.)

6. No Country for Old Men (Maybe the tightest story and bit of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. Is the evil in the world really that overwhelming?)

5. Kill Bill Volume 2 (Two scenes do it for me. The first one is the conversation between Bill and Budd at Budd’s trailer. The second is the superman scene toward the end. Brilliant dialog.)

4. Elizabethtown (I love Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst here. Elizabethtown was panned unfairly as a result of what I see as the media’s anti-Kentucky sentiment. If you look at the quotes on imdb you’ll see that there’s greatness here. Plus, Cameron Crowe had to make the list–I could easily have gone with Almost Famous.)

3. Traffic (Cheadle takes a combative posture in the war on drugs, Del Toro uses baseball.)

2. 21 Grams (I stand alone here for the most part. Naomi Watts is brilliant. I normally don’t like Penn much, but he’s dynamite. But Benicio del Toro’s character and the journey he’s on drills so deep and asks so many questions.)

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (In the end when Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh realize that they’ve devoted their whole lives to a discipline with no inherent return; that their Spartan lifestyle and adherence to self-denial do not begin to culminate in the enlightenment they assumed would be theirs, their devotion instead robbing them of love, yet it being worth it all to experience true love at the deepest and highest levels for even a second … I admittedly got a little choked up.)

What would you add? Take away?

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4 thoughts on “Movies of the Decade

  1. Hm. I’ve only seen a few of those. I think Almost Famous would be a good one to toss in there. Crash, maybe. Juno? It definitely sparked conversation.

  2. Juno was a top 20 on the larger list. So were Gladiator, Almost Famous, Stranger Than Fiction, and King Kong. Crash was a Best Picture, but I think it was too manipulative in its subject matter. Three more that almost made the cut were Adaptation, Master and Commander, and Wall-E. LOTR and Lost In Translation rounded out the top 20.

  3. Assassination of Jesse James has a chance of making my worst of the decade list. It was so ridiculously boring. And as for Zooey Deschanel, she was only in the movie because she was a part of the tacked on, overlong ending that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    And you should have went with Almost Famous instead of Elizabethtown, since Almost Famous is actually a good movie.

    I like the inclusion of SM2. It really improved over the first spiderman. And Crouching Tiger is a great movie, no doubt about it.

  4. Now see, that’s the sort of anti-Kentucky bias that I’m referring to. But seriously, even though I can understand the point you make about AOJJ, I loved it as an art form. Affleck was great. Pitt was convincing. His tormented Jesse James was masterful. And the cinematography was exactly what it needed to be. Regarding which Cameron Crowe movie to include, I’ll admit that Elizabethtown might have been an indulgence. But … it’s not only one of the most quotable movies of the decade, but also a quirky coming of age story with a fitting ending. E-town met my stated criteria better than Almost Famous. Appreciate the post.

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